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Spycraft and Synesthesia

The top remote viewers in our nation are synesthetes.

Artist Carrie C. Firman
Synesthete Spy by Carrie C. Firman
Source: Artist Carrie C. Firman

It's the stuff of thrilling novels and films.

In clandestine facilities, selected personnel “remote viewed” distant targets and helped the United States Army and defense intelligence agencies with national security. They reportedly spotted downed airplanes in distant countries, checked on our hostages abroad, and provided other actionable data.

So far the best remote viewers have been synesthetes.

Nuclear physicist Dr. Edwin C. May was a scientist on the Central Intelligence Agency's psychic spy program, "Star Gate," from 1975 onward, and then program director from 1985 to 1995. He has served this nation for decades as one of the top researchers in psi phenomena. He says the top three remote viewers in the country – including legendary Legion of Merit honoree and United States Army veteran Joseph McMoneagle – all are synesthetes.

Now, at his own private Laboratories for Fundamental Research,, they are further exploring this issue.

Remote viewing, according to is a "mental faculty that allows a perceiver (a 'viewer') to describe or give details about a target that is inaccessible to normal senses due to distance, time, or shielding."

For example, they explain, a viewer might be asked to describe a location on the other side of the world, an event that happened long ago, an object sealed in a container or locked in a room, or perhaps even describe a person or an activity. The viewer is not told anything about the target -- not even its name or designation.

According to Dr. May and his colleague Dr. Sonali Marwaha, the hyper-connectivity within the synesthetes' brains may help them successfully connect to information which cannot be accessed through conventional means, but rather, through the sensory processes alone. They are working on this model, which they now call the “multiphasic model of informational psi”. Details of the model can be found here:

Dr. Marwaha holds a Ph.D. in psychology, but for the last seven years, she and Dr. May have been working together in developing a model involving synesthesia and other neuroscience factors to understand how remote viewing works. Dr. Marwaha adds not only her expertise as a psychologist but also her deep understanding of relevant traditional Indian philosophy to the research. Additionally, they have compiled four lengthy volumes which are being published by McFarland Press called the Star Gate Archives—all the applications of and research into remote viewing and other psychic phenomena that was funded by the US Government for 20 years. These volumes have a foreword by a former Secretary of Defense (Clinton administration) the Honorable William S. Cohen.

Here is my Q&A with both Dr. May and Dr. Marwaha, who answered jointly via email. Thanks to Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove, who first explored this topic in detail with Dr. May here:

How did you come to the theory that synesthesia is important in remote viewing?

Courtesy Dr. May
Dr. Edwin C. May.
Source: Courtesy Dr. May

EM/SM: Remote viewing is one of the methods used to study informational psi (i.e., precognition, real-time psi.) We have opted to use the term “informational psi” as the core process in any psi is how the transfer of information from there/then to here/now. In our discussions on informational psi (IΨ) we look at the problem from two ends: the information-centric perspective (the physics domain) and the person-centric perspective (the neuroscience domain, which includes the psychological aspects). From the person-centric perspective, data has informed us that not everyone has a psi ability. Like other areas, in psi too we find that the ability occurs on a continuum of proficiency – from no psi ability, to highly gifted. We find that psi ability can be found in about 1% of a selected population. Thus, the question before us is what makes this 1% different from the rest of the population?

From the information-centric perspective, there are several unknowns regarding from where and when psi information arrives, the nature of the information carrier, and other such issues. Some experiments have indicated that electromagnetic waves may not be the carriers of psi information signals that emerge from a future point. So the question is what is the nature of the psi signal?

These two factors, along with others, required us to consider a brain architecture that is atypical (person-centric perspective) and can process informational signals that may be different from those that impinge on the other senses. However, we also have to keep in mind that as humans, like other animals, we have a limited view of the world constrained by our species-specific biology. Thus, according to our model of informational psi, these two factors, a hitherto not understood informational signal (the ‘psi’ signal) and an atypical brain architecture were the requirements for a psi ability.

As we explored the literature, we found that synesthetes reported psi experiences. We thus looked deeper into synesthesia, particularly the causes—the underlying brain structure. Hyper-connectivity of brain regions was considered to be a possible underlying factor for synesthetic experiences, the type of experience depending on what areas had greater internal connections. This led us to hypothesize that a psi-adept person will also require similar underlying factors, such that a psi informational signal can be processed leading to a psi experience. Thus our interest in synesthetes for understanding the question of the mechanism of informational psi.

How does that work?

Courtesy Dr. Marwaha.
Dr. Sonali Bhatt Marwaha.
Source: Courtesy Dr. Marwaha.

EM/SM: We refer to hyper-connectivity within the brain, and not between brains. In our analysis, individual minds cannot communicate with each other except through the normal means of verbal and non-verbal behaviors, and through technological means. In other words, we cannot “read” each other’s mind. Considering there is no specific region for a particular thought, the big question in telepathy research is, what is it that a person is “reading” in another mind? Additionally, since the evidence for precognition—informational psi—is more than compelling, it is very difficult to rule out psi as a source of information.

You have said the top three remote viewers have all been synesthetes. How did their synesthesia come up in the first place and how did it inform their viewing?

SM: As you know, we don’t know that we are “different” unless we talk to others about our own experiences and realize that not everyone sees the world the way we do; our personal experience is normal for us. Individual differences are the core of psychology. For instance, I have a very high VVIQ—vividness of visual imagery, as a result of which I have a visual image flowing through my mind all the time. This made reading novels very interesting as I would have a simultaneous movie running in my mind. I thought this was the way it is for everyone until I learned that this is not the case. Similarly, it wasn’t until we asked the specific questions regarding synesthesia to our psi-adept colleagues, that we realized that they were indeed synesthetes. This was a great boost for us, as we recognized that we were on the right track with regard to our multiphasic model of precognition/informational psi. As far as they were concerned, this was a normal part of their self, and it was the psi-ability what set them apart. The only way it informs their viewing is the individualized synesthetic experience they have when they express their perceptions.

Given the success of these synesthetes, are all of the remote viewers in your lab synesthetes now? Do other labs recruit synesthetes for such service?

EM/SM: We ask the synesthesia question secondary to psi ability. Now that we are standing firmly on a testable model, the link becomes stronger when we interact with others regarding their psi ability. Ours is the only model that is looking at the neuroscience perspective on psi. Edwin May, and his colleagues at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) were the very few who have done their psi research with psi-adept persons.

What is the best way a synesthete (or anyone) could train to be a remote viewer and serve his or her nation?

EM/SM: Like synesthesia, psi-ability is also an inherent ability. Just like one cannot train to become a synesthete, so too is the case with psi. I am not aware of any acquired psi-ability following some brain trauma as is the case with some synesthetes.

Are remote viewers used for corporate work as well? Is your lab doing work for both government and private industry?

EM/SM: While individual psi-adepts do work with corporates, our work is presently focused on testing the hypotheses that we have put forth in our model. Theory development is the key focus before we move into the lab.

Are you planning any formal studies on synesthetes? (Please let me know and I will put the word out for subjects).

EM/SM: We will be planning formal studies to test our model in the future. Synesthetes are a natural group for us to begin with.

How are remote viewers distinct from psychics?

EM/SM: Informational psi is the process under study. It is defined as: the transfer of information, which is based on entropic considerations, arising from a distant point in spacetime leading to the local acquisition of non-inferential information by an atypical perceptual ability. Remote viewing is one of the methods or laboratory protocols used for the study of informational psi. Remote viewers, psychics, and associated terms are all synonyms for persons with a psi ability or psi adepts. There are various ways that informational psi can occur in a person, for example dreams, intuitions, and all such similar worlds.

Anything else you would like to add to make sure people clearly understand this fascinating topic would be most welcome.

EM/SM: As individuals, we live by our personal experiences, as they form the fulcrum of who we are. We all live by the adage “seeing is believing” even though we know that when we see an act of a magician cutting a woman in half, it is not real, but just an illusion. We also know that first-person experiences greatly influence our interpretation of things that happen in our life. Further, this interpretation is influenced by our cultural upbringing and learning. This is what provides us our individuality, making us unique, even though we are the same species. With your knowledge about synesthesia, you see it as the wonderful way your brain provides these unique experiences; someone not familiar with the underlying reasons, may see it as some mystical ability that they have—the role of culture greatly influencing these interpretations. Everything that we experience internally, including our sense of self, is a result of the activity of our brain, and psi ability is no different. The brain is the most intimate and fascinating ‘thing’, and holds the key and answer to our identity and experiences. The brain is the doer and the experiencer.

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